Switching to Telework Could Save Feds Thousands Each Year, Totaling Billions in Government Spend

Switching to telework for half of the workweek after the pandemic ends would save Federal employees up to $4,000 each year and the Federal government up to $11 billion annually, per a Global Workplace Analytics calculation discussed at the July 29 Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on remote work.

Global Workplace Analytics created a calculator based on over 125 variables to determine the cost savings potential of Federal telework. Per President Kate Lister’s testimony, half-time telework could save the Federal government over $11 billion – or $13,000 per teleworker – each year.

The calculator includes a 15 percent increase in productivity, a 25 percent decrease in real estate costs, a 31 percent decrease in absenteeism, an extra five days of continuity of operations per year, and a 10 percent decrease in voluntary turnover.

“The consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics determined that if all Federal employees eligible for telework had telecommunicated just half the time, the Federal government could reduce its need for office space by 25 percent,” Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said.

Beyond cost savings, Lister described how more telework would help meet government initiatives and bolster the workplace. Telework would help meet initiatives such as reducing the Federal government’s real estate footprint and minimizing waste to modernize government. It would also expand the Federal talent pool, slow brain drain due to retirements, and provide employment opportunities to a more diverse talent pool, per the Global Workplace Analytics report.

“Only 3 percent of U.S. respondents to our Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey (5 percent in government) said they would not want to work from home at all after the crisis,” Lister wrote in her testimony. “Seventy-six percent said they wanted to do so at least once a week, (85 percent in government). The preferred frequency was 2.5 days a week.”

Plus, individual Fed employees can look forward to saving between $2,500 and $4,000 each year. “Through such telework, Federal employees would also save on personnel experiences and expenditures such as food, commuting, gas, and dry cleaning,” Sen. Barrasso said.

Lister explained, “A typical employee saves between $2,500 and $4,000 a year just on the surface stuff – the getting to work, the dry cleaning, the $3, $4, $5 coffee depending on where you are.” The savings could be even more, she added, if the employee moves to a lower cost area because of telework flexibilities.

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